I clearly remember being nine months and one day pregnant and insisting I had to flip the mattress on our bed. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it in so long. It’s supposed to be done every few months and I tend to forget it for years. If I didn’t do it before the baby came, it wasn’t going to happen for another long time. I felt a real urgency to take care of long-neglected chores; I’d already dusted the lightbulbs.

After my daughter’s birth, I laughed about my stereotypical and somewhat manic pregnant behavior. Then I did all of the same things again three years later, right before my son was born, including flipping the mattress.

I’ve never been a domestic diva. But the third trimester of pregnancy placed me in the fierce grip of the nesting instinct, nonetheless. Never had I harbored such an intense desire to have every piece of laundry done. Every inch of the house clean. Every bit of clutter disposed of. Everything. In. Order. Now.

Was it hormonal? An attempt to exercise control? A reaction to transition? Whatever the cause, I’m experiencing something similar now without the pregnancy component. I have entered perimenopause, so maybe hormones are a factor. Or maybe it’s the sense of impending transition. My kids are growing up and my mother is in her final months of life.

And I suddenly want to do all of things around my house. My husband gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look this afternoon when I, out of the blue, asked, “So when are we starting the entry room project? How about next weekend? Can we get the materials then and start?” There might have been an unhinged tone to my voice.

Perhaps part of it is seeing my mom fading. It reminds me of my own mortality. It reminds me I don’t have forever to make this house the home I dreamed of. Then, too, when she does pass – in a few weeks or months, or a couple of years if I’m feeling optimistic – people will gather here. I need the house in some kind of order. And I’d like to have it nicer for the kids  in their last little while at home.

Today I took advantage of the holiday from work to address my container hoarding. I have a teeny problem. But see, they can’t go in the curbside recycling and I do re-use them sometimes…

Hoarding? Who, me?
Hoarding? Who, me?

In case you can’t see from the photo, the Target bag is nothing but lids. ALL lids. But most of this is gone now. We can now open the cabinet doors without yogurt cartons spilling out around our feet.

I also went through every item of my mom’s that I have stored in my house. I made a list with the intention of asking her to specify who gets what when she dies. She’d already given me permission to use any practical everyday items we had here.

And here’s a reward for my work  – found in a box I’d never opened because it was marked “coffee mugs.” I figured Mom didn’t need coffee mugs at the nursing home, so I never bothered to look in the box. I should have.

My reward
My reward – 50 cups of tea

Extra Medicare Help for Low Income Seniors

Well, it’s happened. My mom has reached the end of her money. Her Medicaid application is in process. I’ve also discovered that low-income seniors can get extra help with Medicare prescription drug premiums. It’s easy to apply on-line. I wish I’d realized sooner that she qualified.

The hard part comes when the Social Security office double checks with the bank and gets inaccurate information. When my mom moved to town, one of the first things I did was open a checking account for her at the bank I already use. My name is on her account, as well, because I take care of her bills.

My name is on five accounts at this particular bank, in fact: a joint checking account with my husband, a joint savings account with my husband, my daughter’s savings account, my son’s savings account and my mom’s checking account. Despite the number of accounts, it doesn’t add up to all that much somehow. But enough to disqualify my mom from help with her premiums when the bank erroneously reports the sum total to Social Security as *all* belonging to my mother. Hello. Her name is on exactly one account, the tiniest one. Her account is not even tied to the others; it’s not like I can transfer money back and forth.

I think I have it straightened out now and have her application moving forward again. Nothing’s ever simple, I tell you.

Happy Mother’s Day

Both of my kids’ birthdays fall near Mother’s Day each year. So we roll it all up into one big celebration. My son will be 15 tomorrow and my daughter 18 on Wednesday. They may be young adults, but they chose a zoo outing for the birthday activity.

As we entered, my daughter said, “We’re adults now. You don’t have to stay with us.” Followed shortly by “Will you get us wristbands so we can get into the children’s zoo area?”  Yep, that pretty much sums up the age.

Today, we’ll bring my mom over to the house for lunch and a movie.

Anyway, happy Mother’s Day to moms of all kinds!


The Perfect Extra-Curricular Activity


By Jean-Simon Berthélemy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jean-Simon Berthélemy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the midst of all of the stress and busyness that comprises sandwich generation parenting of two somewhat unconventional teens, there’s been a real bright spot this school year. My ninth-grade son joined the Gordian Knot, his school’s philosophy club. Led by two teachers, the group engages in structured explorations and discussions of philosophy. My kid can now identify logical fallacies as quickly as people on the Internet can type them. From my point of view, it’s the perfect extra-curricular activity.

Why is it perfect?
1. My son loves it.
2. It gives him a chance to spend time with like-minded kids.
3. It leads to interesting discussions at home.
4. It meets only once per week for one hour after school.
5. There are no practices.
6. There is nothing to buy.
7. There is nothing to sell.
8. It requires no parental volunteer time.

As far as I’m concerned, school activities can’t get better than this.